An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


Clinic offers expert advice on securing pardons, expungements (video)

Participants fill a conference room at Southern Market Center for a pardon and expungement clinic on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo: Kyle Gamble)

It was a full house Thursday in the first-floor conference room at Southern Market Center, where state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, hosted a pardon and expungement clinic for individuals seeking to clear past criminal convictions.

“Too many people are being held back in life by past mistakes,” Smith-Wade-El said. “My pardon and expungement clinic will help people embark on a fresh start, opening the doors to better job opportunities, housing, and overall peace of mind.”

The pardon event consisted of presentations from legal experts on the pardon and expungement process, accompanied by one-on-one counseling sessions to address each attendees’ individual case.

Attendance at pre-registered event was capped at around 50 attendees so that everyone could have a one-on-one session. It was fully booked well before Thursday.

Last month, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed a law known as “Clean Slate 3.0.” It expands the range of offenses that can be sealed from public view, building on legislation passed in 2018 and 2020. It also reduces the amount of time that must pass before misdemeanor and summary offenses can be sealed.

Mary Hoskins

“This is so important, frankly, because life goes on,” Smith-Wade-El said. “We want to encourage people to be engaged, productive members of our community.”

One of the participating nonprofits represented at the clinic was Zion Community Services, which provides pardon and expungement services as part of its reentry program.

“It enhances individuals’ lives,” Zion’s Executive Director Mary Hoskins said. “Our goal is to help out as many people as we can.”

Individual one-on-one consulting. (Photo: Kyle Gamble)